James W. Newton Jr.

Opening Plenary Speaker James Newton’s work encompasses chamber, symphonic, and electronic music genres, compositions for ballet and modern dance, and numerous jazz and world music contexts. Mr. Newton has been the recipient of many awards, fellowships and grants, including the Ford Foundation, Guggenheim, National Endowment of the Arts, and Rockefeller Fellowships; Montreux Grande Prix Du Disque and Downbeat International Critics Jazz Album of the Year; as well as being voted the top flutist for a record-breaking 23 consecutive years in Downbeat Magazine’s International Critics Poll. In 2005 Newton decided to commence the greatest challenge of his compositional career – a trilogy of large-scale sacred works: a Mass, a St. Matthew Passion and a setting of Psalm 119. The Mass, completed in early 2007, received its premiere at the 2007 Metastasio Festival in Prato, Italy. Its U.S. premiere (an expanded choral version) occurred in 2011 with Grant Gershon conducting the Los Angeles Master Chorale at Walt Disney Concert Hall. Newton completed his St. Matthew Passion in 2014 and it received its world premiere with Grant Gershon conducting Coro e Orchestra del Teatro Regio di Torino, at the Torino Jazz and La Sidone Festivals in 2015. Mr. Newton is the first African American and the first composer rooted in the jazz tradition to compose a St. Matthew Passion. His research on the final part of the trilogy, Psalm 119, will begin in the fall of 2016. Described as a musician’s renaissance man, Newton has performed with and composed for many notable artists in the jazz and classical fields, including San Francisco Ballet, Coro e Orchestra del Teatro Regio di Torino, Vladimir Spivakov and the Moscow Virtuosi, Anthony Davis, Jose Limon Dance Company, Dino Saluzzi, Zakir Hussain, Avanti Chamber Orchestra, Grant Gershon and the Los Angeles Master Chorale, Billy Hart, Gloria Cheng, San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, Henry Threadgill, the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group, Ensemble für neue Musik (Zurich), New York New Music Ensemble, Southwest Chamber Music, Jon Jang, and Frank Wess, among others. Mr. Newton’s works have been performed at notable venues including Carnegie Hall; the San Francisco Opera House; The Kennedy Center for Performing Arts; Cité de la Musique, Paris; Berlin National Gallery; Teatro Romano, Verona; The Walt Disney Concert Hall; Hollywood Bowl; RAI Auditorium, Torino; Blas Galindo Auditorium, Mexico City; Teatro Strehler, Milano; Theatre de la Ville, Paris; Parco Concert Hall, Tokyo; DIRECTV Music Hall, Rio De Janeiro; Severance Hall, Cleveland; Amsterdam Museum of Modern Art; and The Whitney Museum, New York. Newton currently holds a distinguished professorship at the University of California at Los Angeles in the Department of Ethnomusicology. He has also held professorships at University of California at Irvine, California Institute of the Arts, and Cal State University Los Angeles. In May of 2005 Newton was awarded a Doctor of Arts Degree, Honoris Causa, from California Institute of the Arts. 

Get News